Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mike Rice: Another victim of political correctness

This whole "controversy" surrounding Mike Rice, the head coach of the Rutgers basketball team, is inflated nonsense. In fact, Rice is—as so many others before him have been—a victim of political correctness.
There, I said it.
Rice was fired by the university earlier this month after practice video surveillance showed him whipping basketballs at players, grabbing them by the jerseys and kicking at them. He is also heard to have been verbally abusive, at one point telling a player, "You're a fairy, you're a faggot!"
That Mike Rice is passionate, there is no doubt. Did he deserve to be fired? Does he deserve to feel, in his own words, like an embarrassment to his family? He didn't embezzle any money, he didn't commit any crimes of passion, evidence of his friskiness were not found on an intern's dress. He didn't even wipe out an entire village with a drone.
Let's face it, Rice got in trouble because he was pushing minority students around. Once the self-appointed arbiters of justice infecting our social media got a hold of this video, the school was going to suffer a fate almost as bad as that of Penn State. Rice had to be fired to save face, especially since the assumption is people apparently cannot distinguish between raping 10-year-old boys and daring to be confrontational with, say, a 6 foot, 5 inch 19-year-old.
Rice was not abusing a group of people with learning disabilities. He was whipping a group of young, strong men into shape. In fact, for a great many of them, a man like Rice is exactly what they need to keep them humble and wipe the arrogant smirk that comes with being young (as well as the same height as the Washington Monument) and thinking they know everything off their faces. None of these "children" are short on self-confidence and none of them are easily wounded.
One is naturally reminded of Bobby Knight, the cantankerous former head baseketball coach of Indiana University. Knight, famous for knocking over chairs and hollering obscenity-laced tirades at players in the locker room, was made out to be a villain on many occasions. But his players always had his back, showing great devotion to him. One such player was someone by the name of Larry Bird.
Here's the thing: Though Rice was without a doubt a man with a temper, he also knew how to keep a team together. Since his firing, former Rutgers team members have said Mike Rice fostered a "familial" atmosphere. As much as he was brusque with his players, he also showed affection for them by taking them out for meals on the road and talking with them at length about their futures.  As for his behavior on the practice court, one former student has said that while Rice was indeed "in your face," he also gave players the opportunity to respond and speak their minds.
Rice reminds me of my former boss at the supermarket I worked at during my college years. There were plenty of times when I did not like him at all. Yet, in retrospect, I know that he wanted the best for me.
How do I really know that Mike Rice is not the monster he has been made out to be? Because New Jersey governor Chris Christie called him an "animal". 'Nuff said, methinks.

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